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James 'Jimmy' Bartel (born on 4 December 1983) is an Australian rules footballer for the Geelong Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). A midfielder at 1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄ in) and 86 kilograms (190 lb), Bartel is a Brownlow Medallist, two-time All-Australian, and was part of the Cats' AFL premiership-winning teams in 2007, 2009 and 2011, being named the Norm Smith medalist in 2011. He has also been selected to the Victorian state team, and has achieved premiership success at every playing level in his career to date.
Although he showed considerable promise as a junior cricketer, Bartel turned his focus toward football and debuted in the TAC Cup as a bottom-aged player. There, he became a standout performer in the junior league, winning a National Championship, TAC Cup premiership medallion, a state Most Valuable Player award, and twice gaining selection in both the All-Australian and TAC Cup Team of the Year sides. After entering his name into the 2001 AFL Draft, Bartel was drafted by Geelong with the eighth overall pick. Since making his AFL debut in 2001, Bartel has played in a VFL premiership, two NAB Cup-winning sides, and Geelong's 2007, 2009 and 2011 AFL premiership-winning teams.
James Bartel was born to Terry Bartel and Dianne Bennett in Geelong, Victoria. He spent much of his childhood in Herne Hill without his father. When his parents divorced while he was just one year old, Bartel's mother was left to raise him and his two elder sisters, Olivia and Emma, by herself.
After beginning his junior football in Bell Park, Bartel left to attend St. Joseph's College, where his talent for sports became evident early. Bartel displayed initial promise as a cricketer, representing the 'Joeys' in 1st XI cricket as a 16-year old, and winning the school's batting awards in both 2000 and 2001. This led to selection in the state under-17 team, before a switch in focus toward football instead saw Bartel selected to play for the Geelong Falcons team in the TAC Cup competition. Although his age made him ineligible for the 2000 AFL Draft, Bartel garnered an impressive array of accolades and honours as a bottom-aged player. Bartel won mid-year State honours for Victoria Country in the AFL National Championships, with his performances in the championship games earning him end-of-year All-Australian honours and the Most Valuable Player award for Victoria Country. In addition, he was named in the TAC Cup Team of the Year, won a TAC Cup premiership medallion with the Geelong Falcons, and also claimed the Best and Fairest Award while still only 16 years of age.
Entering his second year with the Falcons, Bartel was rewarded with the team captaincy for the season. Bartel again won mid-year state honours for Victoria Country, and was additionally awarded the state captaincy. Although failing to repeat his previous success as national champion with Victoria Country, Bartel's individual performances saw him earn All-Australian honours and gain selection in the TAC Cup Team of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Bartel was drafted by the Geelong Football Club with their first selection, and the eighth overall draft pick, in the 2001 AFL Draft. After making his debut in the opening round of the 2002 AFL premiership season, which was a heavy defeat to Essendon, Bartel went on play in 11 out of a possible 22 senior games over the course of the year. After gathering 21 disposals in Round 4, Bartel was awarded an AFL Rising Star nomination. Having been dropped back to the club's VFL team to play out the second half of the season, Bartel went on to play a key part in helping a young Geelong reserves side capture the 2002 VFL Premiership. In helping the Cats defeat Port Melbourne by 22 points, Bartel saw the club secure its first major piece of silverware since 1982.
Despite an impressive debut season, Bartel struggled to maintain his spot within the team during the 2003 AFL season, featuring in only 13 senior games. Averaging just 12 disposals a game, Bartel was unable to help the Cats qualify for the finals series for the third successive season. After just two senior appearances to begin the 2004 AFL season, Bartel was again dropped back to the VFL and instructed by coaching staff to work on particular aspects of his game. Despite compiling a series of impressive games in the VFL, Bartel was deliberately made to work hard over a two month period before earning a Round 10 recall into the senior side. Bartel's re-introduction to the senior team coincided with Geelong winning ten out of their final twelve games and securing a top four spot ahead of the finals series. Although Geelong were eliminated in the preliminary final by reigning premiers Brisbane, Bartel's averages of 22 disposals and five tackles a game over the course of the season had seen him secure his position within the team's midfield rotation. His performances during the second half of the season, during which he averaged 29 disposals and five tackles a game, also saw him recognised as the highest-polling Geelong player—with 13 votes in total—during the 2004 Brownlow Medal count.
Bartel continued to build on his reputation as a tough, courageous midfielder during the 2005 AFL season, earning his first nomination for the AFLPA Robert Rose Award for Most Courageous Player in the league. Averaging 19.6 disposals a game, Bartel again helped Geelong qualify for the season-ending finals series, where they met Sydney in the semi-finals. After developing a slim lead for much of the game, Geelong struggled to maintain their advantage during the final minutes of the match. Bartel was restricted to just nine disposals as the Swans eventually won through to the preliminary finals, defeating Geelong by three points.
During the 2007 season, Bartel established himself as one of the premier ball-winning midfielders in the competition, averaging over 27 disposals per game—the second highest possession average in the league—and finishing amongst the top 10 within the league for total disposals (632), total handballs (291), total tackles (122), and tackles per game (5.3). After helping the Cats claim the McClelland Trophy, he was again nominated for the AFLPA Robert Rose Award as the game's most courageous player, and was also rewarded with his first All-Australian jumper. Bartel's standout season continued when he was awarded the prestigious Brownlow Medal, winning with 29 votes—the highest amount of votes ever by a Geelong medalist, and the third highest ever by any player under the current polling system—in a season that included eight best on ground performances. Despite missing the final two games of the regular season due to a burst appendix, Bartel also set an AFL record alongside teammate Gary Ablett, Jr., for polling the most combined votes ever by two players of the same club. In addition, the pair combined with teammate Joel Corey to set another AFL record for most votes ever polled by three players of the same club, at 61 votes.
Capping off a finals series in which he had averaged 29 disposals, five marks, five tackles, and a goal a game, Bartel won his first premiership medallion when he helped Geelong claim the 2007 AFL Premiership. Bartel's 28 disposals, five marks, five tackles, and two goals in the 2007 AFL Grand Final helped the Cats claim an AFL-record 119 point victory over Port Adelaide.
Bartel didn't drop off the pace at all in the 2008 season. He had a relatively quiet start to the season for his standards, but by mid-season he seemed to have hit full throttle and was close to best on ground for a number of weeks consecutively. After 21 rounds, Bartel was second in the competition in disposals (589) behind teammate Joel Corey.
Bartel was a very important player in Geelong's 2009 Grand Final victory over StKilda, earning him his second AFL Premiership Medallion.
With three goals in the 2011 AFL Grand Final win over Collingwood, Bartel earned his first Norm Smith Medal and third Premiership Medallion. Jimmy's natural ability to read the flight of the ball, reading the play, and ability to play in and under, and ability to take strong overhead marks combined with his accuracy on goal make him one of the greatest players of all time, and an undisputed big game performer.
Jimmy obtains the nickname of "Jimmy Everywhere" (and "Jimmy you Superstar") from some of his fans for his ability to pop up on all parts of the ground. He is a very important playmaker for The Cats, creating important passages of play off Half Back, off The Wing, and at Half Forward either assisting goals or kicking the goals himself.
Jimmy is now part of an elite group of individual footballers who have a Premiership Medal, Norm Smith Medal and Brownlow Medal. Others in the elite group include Simon Black, James Hird, Chris Judd, and Greg Williams.